Turkey was introduced to the early Pilgrim settlers by the Native American Wampanoag tribe after the Pilgrims arrived in 1620. The first year for the settlers was bleak, with many dying from the journey. Their seeds, aside from barley, did not produce any usable crops. The Indians assisted the settlers, introducing them to native foods such as corn and squash and showed them how to hunt and fish. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated in 1621 at the behest of Governor William Bradford, and the Native Americans were invited guests of honor. Thanksgiving became an official holiday in the United States on October 3, 1863 via proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln. This was largely due to the lobbying efforts of Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of Godey's Lady's Magazine who had lobbied for 17 years for the holiday. The proclamation declared the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day. By 1916, Thanksgiving was referred to in writings as Turkey Day due to the popularity of the bird at the traditional feast. Interestingly enough, in 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt attempted to move the official Thanksgiving date to earlier in November in order encourage a longer Christmas shopping season as a Depression recovery strategy. His idea was shut down by Congress, and the official date was declared permanently as the fourth Thursday in November via Public Law #379. The popularity of wild turkeys nearly wiped them out. The federal government stepped in with protection in 1991, and they are now found in 49 states.
(taken from "Thanksgiving Turkey History", by Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, About.com)
Turkey as Our National Bird
On July 4 1776, the First Continental Congress selected a committee to design the Great Seal of the United States of America. It was the task of three founding fathers: Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson to select a political icon that best reflected the new country.
Benjamin Franklin used his legendary humor to rebutt John Adams nomination of the Bald Eagle simular to Germany's Imperial Eagle Sable. Franklin considered the turkey, not the eagle, as a fitting emblem for the Great Seal. To his dismay, Franklin's turkey was outvoted by a large margin. In a letter to his daughter he wrote:
"For my own part I wish the Bald Eagle had not been chosen the Representative of our Country. He is a Bird of bad moral Character. He does not get his Living honestly. You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk; and when that diligent Bird has at length taken a Fish, and is bearing it to his Nest for the Support of his Mate and young Ones, the Bald Eagle pursues him and takes it from him.
With all this Injustice, he is never in good Case but like those among Men who live by Sharping & Robbing he is generally poor and often very lousy. Besides he is a rank Coward: The little King Bird not bigger than a Sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the District. He is therefore by no means a proper Emblem for the brave and honest Cincinnati of America who have driven all the King birds from our Country....
I am on this account not displeased that the Figure is not known as a Bald Eagle, but looks more like a Turkey. For the Truth the Turkey is in Comparison a much more respectable Bird, and withal a true original Native of America... He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a Red Coat on."
Brilliant artist and naturalist, John James Audubon though highly of the patriotic qualities of the turkey.
"Male turkeys can turn their heads red, white and blue by controlling the flow of oxygen to their heads while strutting."
(taken from "Turkey as Our national Bird, DCpages.com)
Great for turkey leftovers
Chicken/Turkey and Broccoli
Mix together 2 cans Cream of Chicken soup,
3/4 cup mayonnaise,
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder,
1 teaspoon lemon juice.
Cook 2 pkgs. frozen broccoli.
6 chicken breasts, cooked, cooled and sliced (or use leftover turkey)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (we like more!)
Layer broccoli, chicken or turkey, sauce and then cheese.
Bake 350* approx. 30 minutes.
I serve with fluffy white rice and a waldorf salad.
"Praise the LORD! Let them praise the name of the LORD, for He commanded and they were created. Praise the LORD from the earth, sea monsters and all deeps; fire and hail, snow and clouds; stormy wind, fulfilling His word; mountains and all hills; fruit trees and all cedars; beasts and all cattle; creeping things and winged fowl; kings of the earth and all peoples; princes and all judges of the earth; both young men and virgins; old men and children. Let them praise the name of the LORD, for His name alone is exalted," Psalm 148:1a, 5, 7-13